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Wean 3 year old to bottle?

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  • Wean 3 year old to bottle?

    OK. Try to be brief. I have been breast feeding for four years straight, tandem, triandem, during pregnancy, with & without milk. I am currently BFing DD, 3 & DS2, 8 months & I am four months pregnant, & it is all I can do to keep BFing DS2 & DD is still in need of BFing but I feel I cannot do it anymore for her sake & mine. I am getting resentful & it is very painful & makes me feel sick when she nurses. She was BFing 2-6 times a day & now I have limited 1-2 but still feel I cannot handle it anymore. I feel extremely guilty about it & am in tears as I write this. I know DD really loves BFing, she was attached pretty much all the time for first year of her life. When I do not BFed her she chews on things or her fingers. This worries me & I was wondering if I could give her a bottle, of other drink of course, & hold her as if nursing her? Or would this be a bad habit to start with her since she is 3? She has never had a bottle before. But my heart is telling me this might be best option for preserving our BFing attachment until she is ready to totally wean without actually BFing her. She gets depressed when I do not nurse her & I feel horrible & she will not except anything else, like cuddling, etc. Any thoughts on this matter would be much appreciated. Also any encouragement would be great as well.

  • #2
    I do think you should wean her if you are starting to feel resentful but doubt a liquid in an artificial (and unfamiliar) container combined with sucking is really the answer. She will be upset as she loses something she loves and something she has together with you. She will feel strong emotions of loss and change, and although it is your job to comfort and connect with her, it is not your job to always provide what she wants at any cost.
    Of course it would be ideal to let all children self wean, but you have your need for balance and your other two to think of also.
    She is older so can understand limits and boundaries better than a younger child.... but I know that still does not make it a pleasant experience from her perspective.
    Think of things that do provide her with comfort and mommy attention that are without nursing. Up those things while telling her you will nurse her X times today......and each day lesson it. <any number of gentle weaning process enter here________ but she is older and can count, understand before lunch or after dinner descriptions etc...>
    Always adknowledge her feelings, validate them, let her know she is still important regardless of nursing or not. Stay on track and slowly have one less nurser but still a great little 3yr old.


    • #3
      I had one kid who would accept a sippy cup of milk in place of BFing to night wean - and one kid who would have nothing to do with it! I think it's worth trying at least. If you try and it doesn't work what have you lost?

      When we night-weaned we were more successful when my DH took over the soothing. My ODS would take a sippy of milk and Daddy cuddles in place of nursing and my MDS could be soothed by Dad even w/out the milk. It was too hard for me to be right there with what they want and not be able to have it so I had to remove myself from the equation.

      I completely hear you - I weaned my oldest when I was tandem nursing my older 2 and was pregnant w/ my 3rd. I could not stand it! I can't imagine BFing 3 and being pregnant. You go, mama!

      When I weaned my oldest I got busy at times when he would normally nurse. I'd put him down, cuddle him, kiss him and tell him I'd be right back and 9 times out of 10 he'd fall asleep. Or I'd get right up in the morning so our routine of BFing first thing was broken. He went from BFing 3x a day to forgetting to ask pretty quickly. When he did ask, if I could stand it I let him but mostly I couldn't so I put him off. I promised him again and again that as soon as I had milk he could nurse again.

      He was 4.5 so he was ready and just needed that extra push. And, as you so well know, I couldn't handle it anymore so I really needed to push. He still asks to nurse a year later, and I do let him on occasion, so I don't think weaning is really a black and white thing.

      So bottom line is try some things and see where you go. It was too hard on my kids to have me there and not be able to nurse so I had to temporarily separate myself in order to wean. Can you get Dad to step in and fill some of her needs while you transition into the next phase?

      On another note, I hear your guilt and I want to absolve you from it. Guilt really adds nothing to parenting, it just makes you feel awful. Feeling guilty is not helping your daughter and may, in fact, be making this harder for her as she picks up on your bad feelings about this. So give yourself a break and be kind to yourself. Let your guilt go. Move forward positively and do what you need to do to meet everyone's needs the best you can. That's all any of us can do! You have given your daughter a tremendous gift. Acknowledge that, celebrate that and realize that you are just one Mommy and you can't be everything to everyone!

      Best of luck to you! You're doing a huge thing here! Please let us know how things turn out!
      Last edited by NicoleL; 11-07-2008, 11:27 AM.


      • #4
        Congratulations on breastfeeding your daughter for 3 years! DD2 was 3 1/2 when she stopped breastfeeding. I was also about 4 months pregnant at the time and it hurt every time she latched on. She began to catch on that I was in pain so we sat down and talked about how much we both enjoyed the nursing relationship. I did not want her memories of breastfeeding to be those of me in pain so nursing was replaced with her using my breast as a pillow to fall asleep on.

        Transitions can be trying for everyone and we might need to try multiple ways before we figure out something that fits. Your daughter might be satisfied with extra cuddles, a straw cup with water, or playing a game during previous daytime nursing sessions.


        • #5
          Thank you so much for all your replies, I really appreciate it! I have been thinking about what all of you have said & considering what I should do that is best for her & I, but I think we may have an underlying issue which may actually make this situation easier to resolve for both of us. I will have to explain later. I just really wanted to say thank you & let you all know that what you all said was helpful!